Alexander Introduces Legislation To Delay Fishing Restrictions Below Dams

Thursday, February 21, 2013

At a press conference Thursday at Old Hickory Dam, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) told a gathering of anglers and other community members that he will introduce legislation next week to delay the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ “unreasonable plan to restrict fishing below Cumberland River dams that will destroy remarkably good recreational opportunities and many jobs.”

“Water spills through the Cumberland River dams less than 20 percent of the time on average,” the senator said.

“To close off the tailwaters to fishing 100 percent of the time would be like keeping the gate down at the railroad crossing 100 percent of the time: The track isn't dangerous when the train isn’t coming, and the tailwaters aren’t dangerous when the water isn’t spilling through the dam.”   

Sen. Alexander said his legislation would require the Corps to conduct an environmental impact review before it could restrict public access to the fishing waters below 10 dams on the Cumberland River. The senator said this process would likely take more than a year and would include multiple comment periods, as well as give Congress time to determine if the funding required for the safety barriers on the Cumberland River is in the best interest of public safety and the American taxpayer.

The senator, who is the senior Republican on the Senate committee overseeing Corps funding, also said that he “wanted to know exactly where the $2.6 million that the Corps plans to use to erect physical barriers is coming from during these tight budget times.”
 
Sen. Alexander was joined at Thursday’s event by Ed Carter, executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Mike Butler, CEO of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation.

Mr. Carter told the gathering, “These are extremely important waters for economic and recreational reasons, and there are alternative ways to address the safety issues for boating anglers.”
 
Mr. Butler said, “These are public waters, owned by the citizens and held in trust by the state, and they offer some of the best fishing to be found anywhere. The notion of completely banning boats from our world-class tailwater fisheries without any public input is alarming, and the statistics show that fishing below the dams is exceedingly safe.”

Two weeks ago, Sen. Alexander and Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Jim Cooper (D-Tn.) met at the U.S. Capitol with Maj. General Michael Walsh of the Corps to press their concerns about the Corps plan. Earlier Alexander had met with Lt. Col. James DeLapp, Commander of the Nashville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The senator said he has requested a meeting with the Assistant Secretary of the Army to press his case that “there are more reasonable ways to achieve both the goals of public safety and allowing taxpayers to enjoy these good fishing opportunities.”   

Sen. Alexander pointed out that the Tennessee Valley Authority achieves its safety goals without using physical barriers to restrict fishing access to tailwaters below its dams, instead using warning signs, strobe lights and horns at 22 of its 31 dams to warn of times when water will spill through the dams.

 


Appalachian Trail Produces Deer Poacher And Lost Dog

TWRA wildlife officers working along the Appalachian Trail in the Cherokee National Forest near Butler charged a hunter with violations related to illegal deer hunting, then rescued a lost family pet in the same area.  Carter County Wildlife Officer Dennis Ward has documented illegal ATV tracks on Iron Mountain for several years, and while scouting out the area this year, ... (click for more)

Drought-Induced Peril Prompts Rescue Of Endangered Fish

The fishes that live in headwater streams are like the scrappy underdogs of the aquatic world. They’ve adapted to hang tough in low-oxygen conditions and to make it through the occasional drought. But even Rocky Balboa couldn’t go 15 rounds — let alone months at a stretch — without the occasional water break. Thanks to a drought of historic proportions, the few creeks ... (click for more)

Valerie Bray Pleads Guilty In Death Of Well-Known Runner Cameron Bean

A long-time Moccasin Bend Hospital employee pleaded guilty on Tuesday morning in connection with the death of well-known runner Cameron Bean. Ms. Bray pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident with a fatality involved. Defense attorney Bill Speek said she faces one-two years on each charge at a sentencing hearing on Feb. 1 at 1:30 ... (click for more)

Officer Who Was Shot Returned Fire; Is Recovering Well; Shooter Still On Loose

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said Monday morning that the officer who was shot three times on Thursday is recovering well.   Chief Fletcher said the officer was wearing a bullet-proof vest and one bullet hit the vest, which protected him during the shooting.  The officer was able to return fire, although Chief Fletcher would not comment on how many bullets ... (click for more)

An Open Letter To Tennessee Electors Of The President - And Response (2)

This an open letter to the following people who are Tennessee's presidential electors this year: Joey Jacobs (Brentwood), Beth Scott Clayton Amos (Nashville), Jason Mumpower (Bristol), Susan Mills (Maryville), Liz Holiway (Harriman), Lynne Davis (Lascassas), Tom Lawless (Nashville), Mike Callahan (Monterey), Pat Allen (Clarksville), Shannon Haynes (Alamo), and Drew Daniel (Memphis).  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Abolish Bail For Poor

Our terribly overcrowded Hamilton County Jail may get some help from an unsuspected corner – the Obama administration is tackling the fact that right now over 450,000 people are in our country’s jails because they are too poor to pay for bail. It is a violation of the Constitution to “punish people for their poverty.” As the Eighth Amendment provides, “… excessive bail ought not ... (click for more)